Business, Fun, Writing

Iz in your tea cup writin ur blogs

This weekend I “soft launched” It’s a tea blog. Basically I drink so much tea, find so many little tid bits related to tea, that I could fill a whole blog talking about it. And I don’t put it all here otherwise it would become rather clear just how crazy I am when it comes to tea. I don’t claim to be an expert on it. I’ll leave that to the professionals that go to Asia, India, Sri Lanka and Africa to source the tea, but I hope to entertain other tea lovers with my finds.

There are about a dozen posts over on my tea blog – stuff that I’ve been bookmarking for a while now.I’m slowly getting through it all.

So remember: Tea solves all.

Flickr Photo Download: Ra Tea


Sweet Tea

Since it’s been feeling like summer here in Vancouver (finally), Brendon and I have been drinking some good old-fashioned sweet tea. There’s only one company on the West Coast that I know that serves it, and it’s the restaurants at the Flying J truck stops on I-5. Since we’re nowhere near one and Vancouver thinks that sweet tea means Nestea or Snapple, I’ve been making my own. It’s one of the few things that makes me want to move to the South – super humid, buggy summers keep me away.

If you want to try making it yourself, you can try my recipe. Everyone has their own and the best way to make it is always a debate.

  1. Get yourself a 4 cup Pyrex glass measuring cup.
  2. Boil 5 cups of water in a tea kettle.
  3. While the water is boiling, put 1 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of baking soda into a Pyrex measuring cup. (Baking soda helps to make the tea brew darker and less bitter.)
  4. Set aside 7 round Tetley tea bags. (Others swear by Lipton, but I like the round Tetley ones.)
  5. Pour the boiling water in a circular motion into the sugar and baking soda.
  6. Stir the sugar until the water becomes clear and syrupy looking.
  7. Add the 7 tea bags.
  8. Gently stir 5 times.
  9. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  10. Fill a sealable plastic 2.5 quart (2.4 litre) pitcher with ice. (This will make a super sweet tea. If you don’t want something that tastes like you’re getting cavities, try a gallon pitcher.)
  11. Take the tea bags out of the Pyrex cup. DO NOT SQUEEZE THEM. Toss them in the sink and squeeze later if you don’t want all the water in the garbage or compost.  Squeezing causes the tea to be bitter.
  12. Pour the tea/sugar syrup into the pitcher with ice.
  13. Top it off with cold water.
  14. Seal the pitcher and shake.
  15. Serve right away over ice if you’re impatient or let it sit in the fridge for a half hour or more. The longer it sits the better it tastes. Always serve with ice. It is called iced tea after all.

Green tea version – Before WWII green tea was the most popular tea in the U.S., and supposedly the first sweet tea recipe used green tea. If you want to try a green tea version, try replacing the Tetley bags with jasmine tea bags. And replace the sugar with 1 cup of honey and 1/4 of sugar.

On the usage of mint – It’s up to you. Sometimes I add it at the same time as the tea bags, and remove it before pouring it into the pitcher. It can add an interesting little flavor. Don’t leave them in the pitcher – it gets gross after a while. 

Filtered or unfiltered water – It’s up to you. I’ve found that filtered water can make a clearer tea, but you miss out on any natural minerals or floride that’s good for you. Vancouver has really good water, so for me it doesn’t necessarily make much of a difference with the taste.

If you think you have a better recipe, you can add it below – or perhaps we’ll just have to face off at the Sweet Tea Challenge.


We live in a magical age

Brendon and I talked with his grandmother (aka Nanny)  in Australia via video Skype a couple weeks ago.  It was the first time he talked to her face to face in about 24 years.  After seeing Brendon and talking to him for a bit she said, “We live in a magical age.” And you know  – she’s right.

His aunt surprised us with the call and after getting the web cam and Skype to cooperate it was like the Jetsons video calls. As a kid I thought that would be the coolest thing ever and laughed at Jane wearing her fake face when she answered calls in the morning. Needless to say I kinda wanted one of those when they called.

What seemed improbable as a kid starts coming true the older we get. Today another thing happened. Whenever my sisters and I were being complete grumps when we were little, my mom had this little mantra she would say to us: “I don’t want to be happy. I want to be sad.” She always told us it was from her favorite cartoon from when she was little.  We never saw this mysterious cartoon -  I never thought we’d ever see it, and it was lost to history.

Fast forward 25 years.

Boing Boing featured a cartoon today that sounded like it just might have that line it in. And it does! The cartoon is on YouTube and is called “The Sunshine Makers“. I immediately emailed it to my mom and sisters. It’s a funny, sweet, and silly part of my childhood that suddenly makes a little more sense.

That little discovery might not seem as magical as talking to someone on the other side of the world, but to me it’s on par.


Gettin’ Drunk at Disneyland

So I’m putting together various playlists for our trip down to SoCal. After searching for “Disneyland” on iTunes, I stumbled across the funniest song I’ve heard yet about the place, Gettin Drunk at Disneyland sung by some guy called Fig to the tune of Enter Sandman by Metallica. You can read the lyrics here.

I think my favorite line before the song starts:

I hope you kids realize we’re spending all your college money on this trip to Disneyland.

Fun, Madness

Eurovision 2006

Okay, so if you don’t know what Eurovision is or have never seen the contest, you probably don’t understand the trainwreck that it is. It something like the Miss American Pagent combined with American Idol. Each European country has their own competition to choose the best song to go the Eurovision. This song has to be written specifically for Eurovision. So no, Ireland can’t just send the latest U2 song – it would make this contest so less funny. Once at Eurovision, the country puts on a performance of the song.

So I just found out who the winner for 2006 is – Finland.  (For my European friends – Yes it was in May; I live under a rock that is called the U.S.)

If you’re thinking they submitted some cute Lapland folksong that talks about reindeer frolicking in the snow, you couldn’t be more wrong! OMG – the group that performed it is called Lordi – and they look like a combination of something out of Lord of the Rings and Xenu (The Scientology overlord that was in that John Travolta movie). And to top it all off, they’re singing a deathmetal song about angels and heaven. I kid you not.

You can enjoy all the fun/horror with the online Eurovision song clips. The rest of the entries sounded either like bad American country music or dance/pop music. I don’t know which is worse.


Favorite Music of the Week

Patrick Brealey and the Knives

I can’t really place who they sound like, but it’s a bit pop-rock. Something about it reminds me of The Wannadies, but not as sugary. If you need a mood lift listen to Escaper. Patrick used to be part of The Salteens, but broke out on his own a couple years back.

Okay, I know Patrick and am a bit biased, but they have sweetest soothing happy sound. And he couldn’t be any nicer. And he takes some darn nice photos too.

Check out Patrick Brealey and the Knives. And if you happen to take a trip to Vancouver, go see them live.

MC Lars

Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock by MC Lars (a.k.a. Lars Horris, a.k.a. Andrew Nielsen) is my favorite new song this week. The self-proclaimed “post-punk laptop rapper” is a recent English grad from Stanford who incorporates literary references into his songs. Is this the first geek rapper? (I can’t help but giggle when I see that this boy from Berkeley is living in Brooklyn. What is it with kids these days movin’ to Brooklyn?)

Those in the know, probably have heard of him already. But if you’re like me, not so into music like you were when you were 16, then you probably haven’t heard of him. His debut album, The Graduate, was released today on iTunes in the U.S. only.

It’s a mix of Beastie Boys, Beck, Weird Al, and Rage Against the Machine. You have to hear it to get what I’m trying to explain.

It looks like this guy is self-promoting his way to the top. He has is own label, Horris Records, the attention of the video channels, and is getting airplay (that’s how I heard him). Of course it probably helps if you have a good producer like Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday). But I’ll try not to feel “had” when we all learn that he is actually highly manufactured and backed by one of the big labels – yes, I’m a cynic.

Looking at his MySpace page, he’s doing the obligatory European tour. (The Commodore 2 in Brighton brings back memories.) I’m sure there are a few people that are betting he’ll go from “I’m big in Europe” to “I’m big.”